Almanac Golf: The Troon gloaming and other crimes

This is today’s newsletter


G’day Sportsfans


I think it was Thoreau who said most men lead lives of quiet desperation. Bugger Thoreau. That’s why we have lunch and footy and the British Open. And children (more of that another time).


It’s all been getting a little earnest in my neck of the woods so it’s timely to celebrate the sheer good fortune of Cyril’s goal and the prospect of Justin Rose giving me a tidy collect and to head off to the North Fitzroy Arms.


And to remember the joy.


I love The Open. I’ve been to Troon. I was with the great T.G. White and Tracey cruising around Scotland in 1993. We’d been to Glasgow (great city) and visited St Mungo’s Museum of Religious Life and Art which features Dali’s St John of the Cross, a painting that demands you stand under it and take it in. St Mungo is the patron saint of Glasgow. Mungo means foraging around in the rubbish – hence, I suppose, Mungo MacCallum. I love that nickname.


Heading along the west coast and stopping from time to time in a wee pub for a wee dram (which is where I learnt of the measurement the ‘gil’) we arrived at Troon. I was en route to St Andrew’s which I eventually played (the Road Hole got me) but, being a busted-arse student and canny backpacker I thought I would be able to sneak on to Troon.


The gloaming was as gloaming as you could imagine, with ne’er any breeze, as I got the clubs out of the hire car, put on the golf shoes I’d seconded from Wallo in London, and began to chart a course along alleyways and past bins looking for a mound that would cover my entry onto a fairway of golden-green. If I could just get away from the clubhouse.


I had assured TG I’d be fine. “I reckon I’ll get a few in,” I had said to him.


I wasn’t aware of the eight security cameras in place at the time but I became acutely aware of them when the secretary took me hospitably by the upper arm.


He was brilliant. Despite the intrusion of a young colonial reprobate he was as polite as his station demanded. His was a classy club, and he handled the situation with all of that class.


“Welcome,” he said, genially.


“Thanks,” I said.


“You’ll love the course,” he said pointing towards it.


“I’m sure,” I said.


“Come with me.” We went to his office.


“Now,” he said. “Nine holes. Or eighteen?”


“Bit late for eighteen,” I said. “Just the nine.”


Oddly I thought I was still a chance to play Royal Troon for nowt.


“That will be 85 pounds,” he said.


“Oh,” I said. “I just wanted to have a look really.”


“You have,” he said.


And we both knew it was best if I just turned to the door and headed to the carpark.


“That went well,” said TG.


And we went off to the pub.


Earlier that month I’d been to one day of The Open at Royal St George’s. Day 3. We were supposed to go to the last day as well but our hosts – Peanut, Lord North, the thirteenth earl of Guildford and Bertie (his mate) and Mishy (his squeeze) wanted to go to lunch at a Mexican joint in Canterbury – so we heard G. Norman win on BBC radio driving back to London.


How I got to meet Peanut, Lord North, is a story for another day, but it involved Gary ‘The Dog’ Seeto who was a handy golfer himself and working as an electrical engineer in London at the time. ‘The Dog’ hit one of the greatest shots I’ve ever seen. It was seven in the morning and we were playing the fifth on the East Course at Indooroopilly, a 149m par 3. You hit westward which means the rising sun was behind us. The Dog caressed a seven iron which never lift the pin. Illuminated as if stage-lit against a clear blue sky, it landed softly before the front-right pin, checked and dribbled a metre or so into the cup.


“It’s in the fucking hole,” screamed I. Lamb (Australia), The People’s Hero, with enough decibels to wake up all of Tennyson and most of Yeerongpilly across the river. And there were the appropriate celebrations.


The Dog, in his laconic way, just grinned.


They were great days, when the spirit of play prevailed.


I’m going in search of it again.


Much happening at the Almanac. With some states returning to school and work it seems things are livening up again. The kids have been active with some stories and even a poem by eight year old Archie Rawlings. Have a look at the gallery of photos of the Fitzroy Under 9-S team running through the banner to celebrate the first game of Dylan Collyer who, despite being out since before the start of the season with a broken leg, has not missed training or a game. What a loyal team man! And congratulations to 13 year old Ethan Orr for taking the time to make the banner. That’s commitment.


Check out our many and varied stories.


Lunch at the North Fitzroy Arms on July 29 features Bill Deller and Murray Bird. We have an Almanac lunch in Hobart on August 19, before the North v Sydney at Blundstone Arena the following day. A few of us are travelling and we have an Almanac crew of locals down there who are up for lunch. Let us know if you would like to come (to either lunch – or both!. More details on the lunch later. Hopefully we’ll be able to catch up with our Blundstone friends who have been wonderful supporters of the Almanac.


Have a happy day, even you Swannies.


Go Cats

About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and He has written columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears (appeared?) on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted [email protected] He is married to The Handicapper and has three school-age kids - Theo, Anna, Evie. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst four. His ambition was to lunch for Australia but it clashed with his other ambition - to shoot his age.


  1. bernard whimpress says

    Ah, so the Road Hole got you. When I played the Old Course in 1974 the starter apologised for the green fees having risen that week from 1 pound to 2 for the start of the summer season. I replied: ‘I’ve come 12,000 miles I’m not going to quibble about a quid.’
    When I birdied the 16th I needed two pars for a 78 but typically tried to protect my score. I was thus very conservative playing the Road Hole and avoided the front bunker at all costs – result, on in three and a bogey. Needing a par at the last I hit a weak drive which found the fairway. So weak was it that I hit a 3 iron onto the green for my second but finished in the Valley of Sin about 80 feet from the cup. When I hit the first putt it looked like it was in but ran on five feet past the hole. I thought I hit the return just as I wanted to with a slight break from the left but it lipped out – 80! A bit like getting 99 at Lord’s.

  2. jan courtin says

    A happy day – WHAT?! No, not really having a happy day at all, John.

  3. I stayed visited Troon and stayed on Southwood Road, overlooking the course, so had access to local knowledge. A good way to experience the course without playing was to walk along the beach, which is public.

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